Back-to-back student journalism wins for Stirling

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A University of Stirling student has landed a top national journalism award.

It is the second consecutive year a Stirling undergraduate has won the top prize in the Ian Bell ‘New Writing’ competition for an unpublished piece by a writer under 30.

This year’s award went to third-year journalism student Peter Stewart, for his piece ‘Scottish Junior Football – the beautiful game’.

Peter said: “I’m nothing short of honoured and humbled to receive first prize in an award associated with such a great man and writer.


“I can’t thank the organisers and judges enough. I know there will have been some outstanding writers in the running.

“My piece was born of reporting on junior football for my local paper, and I thought I’d put a different spin on it, focused on things I saw and people I met. I’ve always been fascinated with how Scotland performs infamously at the sport, and yet it’s our lifeblood.

Peter Stewart

Peter Stewart, Journalism student

“It really is more than a game – it’s generational, historical and magical. Junior football encapsulates that at its most raw.”

Peter will receive his award at the ‘Journalism is a Matter of Life and Death’ event, part of Glasgow’s Aye Write! Book Festival, at 4.45pm on 23 March at the city’s Mitchell Library.

Tom Collins, Senior Lecturer in Stirling’s Division of Communications, Media and Culture, said: “Peter is an exceptional writer, and his take on the world of Scottish junior soccer is revelatory. He has an acute eye for detail and the ability to capture his subjects’ rhythms of speech is moving and at times very funny.

“The strength of his piece is that it transcends its subject: it doesn’t matter whether or not you like soccer – if you love great writing, you will love this.”


Peter added: “Biggest thanks to Tom Collins and all at the journalism department at Stirling, without whom I’d never have thought to submit for the award.”

The judges also gave a ‘highly commended’ mention to Mark Wilson, a student of digital media at the University, for his unusual take on the world of apocalypse predictors.

Last year, Stirling journalism student Florence Breitstadt won the student prize at the Ian Bell ‘New Writing’ competition.

The competition was set up in memory of the journalist Ian Bell, who died in 2015, by his family and the Edinburgh branch of the National Union of Journalists, of which Ian was a member.

This year’s winners will receive their awards from three judges – Neal Ascherson, Susan Flockhart and Layla-Roxanne Hill – and Ian Bell’s son, Sean.

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